Annual boat festival benefits Kilby Laboratory School

Teams lining up for their second round races. Members from the Dynamic Dragon Boat crew were helpful with rowers technique and team unity.

Food, laughter and brightly colored boats all make for a fun, charitable time. The Shoals Dragon Boat Festival hosts all of this Oct. 3.

The Shoals Dragon Boat Festival is a fundraising event for Kilby Laboratory School. Last year, the event raised around $10,000, said Shoals Dragon Boat Festival publicist Carole Maynard.

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a ceremony called The Awakening of the Dragon, she said.

“It’s when we take one of the Dragon heads off of the boat and we have someone paint the eye on the dragon and that awakens the dragon,” she said. “This year we’re really excited to have Kenneth Kitts awaken the dragon.”

After the ceremony, teams race in heats of 3 and their times are recorded. Each team races at least twice and the top 12 teams race a 3rd time, she said.

There will be plenty for people of all ages to see and do including a kid zone, food vendors and the UNA percussion group, Maynard said.

Junior Jose Figueroa-Cifuentes said he has been participating in the festival with ROTC since the first year. He said he believes the festival has gotten better when it comes to attendance, but has not lost its true purpose.

“It expanded tremendously from the first year to last year,” he said. “There was more tailgating, but it was still a fundraiser and not just a ‘let’s hang out’ type of deal.”

The money for school comes from different sources, Maynard said.

“We have some fantastic sponsors that donate,” she said. “Then we have the people who register teams, so their fee adds on to that. We also have merchandise for sale.”

There are people who walk around the grounds holding jars for donations, Figueroa-Cifuentes said.

The registration fee for a team is $1,250, according to the Shoals Dragon Boat Festival website.

“It’s a little steep because a lot of fundraisers don’t require you to spend that much money to get in,” said sophomore Graci Berryman. “A lot of people don’t have that much money put together.”

Though the race is a competition, it is still a fun event, Figueroa-Cifuentes said.

“The first time it was more about having fun, but we did come in first place,” he said. “Last year, it was more about trying to win.”

Teams compete in different categories for first, second and third places, Maynard said.

The College of Arts and Sciences will have a boat and a tent, said Dean of Arts and Sciences Carmen Burkhalter.

“It is an activity that I thought would benefit the university, since Kilby is a part of the university,” she said. “It will also give our faculty an opportunity to meet each other, spend some time together and develop opportunities for research and teaching collaborations.”

The event is a lot of fun and a great addition to the community, she said.

Teams compete for the best theme, and some have worn costumes in the past, Maynard said.

“The first year the Kilby teachers dressed up as the Cat in the Hat,” she said. “Last year there was a team dressed up as Elvis.”

The winners will receive paddles decorated with the Shoals Dragon Boat Festival logo which were painted by local artist Marianthe Snyder, she said.

The festival is a great way to meet people and give back to the community, said junior Stormy Morgan.

“It is a unique experience,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun because it draws in a lot of students from UNA, so it’s a good way to socialize with others. You’re also donating money to Kilby which is kind of our younger sibling.”

People should come cheer on their favorite teams, Burkhalter said.

Currently there are 33 teams competing including the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Services, College of Business, Honors Program and UNA Opera.

Editors note:

Maynard said there spots for a few more teams.

Anyone interested should contact [email protected] or Emily Rhodes at 256-740-9835.

If any students need service hours, volunteers are still needed in several areas.